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I was  beginning to think I liked the idea of cheesecake more than the actual cheesecake before I found this recipe. It always sounds so good, and yet 9 times out of ten it’s disappointing. And the one source of good cheesecake I had moved to Grand Forks.

Last Easter I Googled “light cheesecake”. I meant light as in texture (I like cheesecake to be more like a mousse, less like a brick) and not light as in calories. The results returned “Joanne’s Almost Fat Free Cheesecake” courtesy of Paula Dean. Go here for the original recipe in all it’s glory.  I did make the recipe exactly as it is on the Food Network site the first time, and it was alright. Below is my adaptation, because I don’t like the texture of fat free cream cheese and something about Splenda weirds me out. I know, I’m a weirdo. The lemon curd is amazing but I usually leave it off of my cheesecake because I put more lemon in the cake itself and well, I’m too lazy to make lemon curd.

Please note, I put A LOT more lemon juice and zest in my cheesecake than the orignal. I love lemon. If you’re scared, add a little at a time until you taste the mix and you feel it has the right amount of lemon. Then pour the rest in a glass with some vodka and tonic water and call it a day.

Lowfat Lemon Cheesecake (adapted from Joanne’s Almost Fat Free Cheesecake)

Crust

  • 2 cups low/non fat vanilla wafer crumbs (you can use graham crackers too)
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted

Filling

  • 3 (8 oz) packages low fat cream cheese, softened (one package of nonfat cream cheese may be used if you’re feeling guilty about eating cheesecake)
  • 1 Cup fat free sour cream
  • 2 cups sugar (or splenda, if you desire)
  • 3 eggs (or 3/4 cup egg substitute)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325. Spray a 9 inch springform pan generously with cooking spray. In separate bowl mix cookie crumbs and melted butter until all crumbs are moisten. Press evenly into bottom of pan and up the sides at least 1 1/2 inches. Bake crust in oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden and set. Set aside to cool.

To make the filling, beat softened cream cheese and sour cream on medium at least three minutes until there are no clumps of cream cheese left and mixture is smooth. Slowly add sugar. Then add eggs, one at a time and mix until just incorporated. Add lemon zest and juice and mix (again, if you are scared of too much lemony flavor, add a tablespoon at a time of the juice). Pour filling into crust, tap pan on counter twice to release air bubbles.

Bake for one to one hour and fifteen minutes, until outer edge has a golden hue and center is set but still jiggly. DO NOT BAKE UNTIL CENTER STOPS JIGGLING. Remove from oven. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes, run knife around edge of springform pan and release the ring. Let set on rack and cool until at least room temperature. refrigerate at least one hour, preferably over night. Keep cheesecake covered tightly in fridge, it is prone to absorbing refrigerator odors.

See, the texture is more like mousse, not nearly as dense as a lot of cheesecakes.

Bakers Suggestion #1 : immediately after placing cheesecake on wire rack to cool, place a large glass or plastic bowl upside down over the cheesecake. Slightly raise one side of the bowl so condensation will run off the bowl and not onto the cheesecake. This prevents the cake from cooling too fast and creating a crater in the middle.

Bakers Suggestion #2: This recipe, minus the lemon is a great ‘base’ cheesecake. I’ve made it before and swirled in salted caramel and peanut butter, or added a swirl of seedless raspberry jam.

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